CDC updates CTR guidelines

Question

Recently the CDC has posted an update to the CTR(counsiling, testing and referral) guidelines on their website. Have you taken a look at it yet? It seems a lot of people asking questions on this forum have a concern with a single possible exposure b/c that's the only recent exposure they've had. The revised guidelines say (i'll paraphrase) that for a single possible exposure a person should be retested at greater than or equal to 3 months to check for the possible false negative that may have been recieved if the test was performed before 3 months. Then it goes on to say that for a definite exposure (pretty much what you've been telling people) to consider having the test again at greater than or equal to 6 months. And so on.... So are these guidelines an official update? or are they still pending further CDC approval? I would assume the CDC would not post something without it being official at the time of posting. I just wanted to get your take on this. Thanks!

Answer

Thanks for bringing this document to everyone's attention. It is an official publication of the CDC that presents guidelines for HIV counseling, testing and referral in the United States; it is a revised version of the original publication that was released in 1994. The publication can be located at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5019a1.htm.

You summed up the publication's description of the window period well. To learn the HIV status of an individual, antibody testing should be conducted at least three months after the exposure for a conclusive result. Any testing conducted within three months following exposure is not definitive. If the person was definitely exposed to an HIV positive person AND the provider or client remains concerned, repeat testing can be conducted six months following the exposure.

The revised guidelines confirm exactly what has been stated in this forum and among many experts for some time; testing at or greater than three months is sufficient. Hopefully, this official document provides more comfort to those who remain anxious about infection despite being tested three months following exposure.

RMK